By William McKenzie
As it begins to chart a course on education policy, the Biden administration would do well to heed the voice of parent leaders around the country. The debate at the moment concerns whether to open schools, but the larger issue is the persistent achievement gaps that affect families and the future paths available to their children.
Not all students start at the same place. Limited access to quality teaching, decent facilities, and rigorous curriculum often lead to achievement gaps. Children in low-income, minority families often suffer from these disadvantages.
Massachusetts parent activist Keri Rodrigues, co-founder and head of the National Parents Union, stressed inequity during a recent interview with me and my Bush Institute colleague Anne Wicks. “We are here to fight for equity in education and making sure the quality of education that a child living in an inner-city receives is the same as the child living in an upper-middle-class district,” she said. “That’s not too much to ask.”
Yes, students need access to equitable resources – but teachers, parents, and taxpayers also need the facts before their schools can improve. “As a community,” Rodrigues said, “we cannot do that based on feeling.”
We can’t get students the good teachers they deserve, the training that struggling teachers require, and the leadership that underperforming campuses need without a clear set of facts. And you can’t get honest data without high-quality, objective exams.
Testing students with exams that honestly compare achievement levels across a state can lead to substantial improvements.
That is evidence enough that achievement gaps are a serious issue. Parent activists are eager to draw attention to the problem. Political leaders should listen.
Originally published by RealClearEducation. Republished with permission.